Friday, December 12, 2014

Color Poem Amped Up

As I get into the thick of my writing program, I have been rewriting lessons and streamlining. Teaching in a dual language immersion program and having limited instructional times will prompt that! For a few years, I have done the traditional "color poem" that you can find all over the internet using the 5 senses. Last year I used it to practice telling more. Basically, this is the way it goes. You have your  kids pick a color to write about. They write a sentence for each sense. It might look like this:

Blue looks like water.
Blue sounds like quiet.
Blue feels like a blanket.
Blue tastes like a lollipop.
Blue smells warm.

While for some students this is a bit abstract and takes some thinking about how blue may smell, they usually pick up quickly on the idea. The result is something that a first grader might write (no offense first graders). But, it's a great jumping off point. Now, you will use it to have the kids expand on those ideas, to tell more.

Blue looks like water dripping off my nose.
Blue sounds like quiet when my sister goes to college.
Blue feels like a blanket wrapped around me.
Blue tastes like a lollipop sour and sweet.
Blue smells warm like my mom's blueberry cake.

This is where I stopped last year. We put them on cool paper that we decorated with each particular color. And we were very proud of them. Still are. They were great. They are a much better representation of what second graders can do than the first iteration.

This year, as I was planning, the little second grade doubter voice came into my head (you know... it's the voice of that child who remembers everything you've ever said and recalls it at just the moment that you are contradicting yourself). In a previous lesson, we had been discussing that writing is more interesting when we start our sentences with different words, not the same ones over and over again. Yup, busted. Well, I decided to fast-forward to a lesson that I usually do later in the year. I was hoping it would pay off if we could get a grasp on it this early in the year.

After we finished with the second iteration of the poem and without introduction, I pass out a note page to be glued into the sentence fluency section of our writing notebooks. It is a page that details different ways to begin sentences.

We read it together and I pose the question of why we glueing this in now. Usually the kids pick up on the connection to the color poem immediately. At this point we begin the transformation of the poem. I made up this organizer to help us do so. Each of the 5 sentences in the poem goes onto the organizer. Each in a different spot. Here is my final poem.

               Get this sheet on my TPT site.

Wrapped around me, blue feels like a blanket.
Dripping off my nose, blue looks like water.
Deliciously, blue tastes like a lollipop sour and sweet.
All at once, blue smells warm like my mom's blueberry cake.
Blue sounds like the quiet when my sister goes to college.

While, this was a difficult task at this point in the year, our poems ended up sounding great. The ideas of how to change up our sentence beginnings hit home and I look forward to working on it more in our upcoming writing units. Hope you can use it too! Let me know how it goes.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

End of the Year Fun

What is it about May?  March and April seem to drag along, and then - BAM!- May comes, and there aren’t enough hours in the school day.  The month is jam-packed with testing, field day, testing, science fairs, testing, and testing.  Did I mention all the testing that happens in May?  As a way to bring some fun into May, toward the end of the month I set up this balloon activity.  I found it here on Pinterest last year, and tried it out.  My kids loved it, and it was a great way to keep them motivated through the last day of school.  You can check out some of the activities my class does on our End of the Year Fun Pinterest board.

In my classroom, we do these activities the last 10 days of school, in the afternoons.  I don’t tell the kids anything about it in advance, so they are super-surprised the first morning all the balloons are hanging from the ceiling!  Each morning, we find that day’s balloon (I have them numbered), pop it, and read the activity.  My kids also know if they don’t behave, the activity can be taken away.  We have to maintain some control, right?  You can download these strips I put into the balloons here.   

Happy popping!